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Articles & Press Releases > Article 1

How to Help Your Friends Who Experience a Job Loss

Do you have friends or family members who have recently experienced a job loss? Career transition can be a very trying time. Share these tips and ideas with them to make the experience more palatable. Toward the end of the article are tips for you -- their friend or former colleague -- regarding how you can help them.


Tips

When you first lose a job, give yourself some grace (a.k.a. "cut yourself some slack") and sleep an extra 1 or 2 hours for the first week or two. The experience of losing a job can be very draining. Get some extra rest at the beginning to get your energy levels up.

Once you have rested for a week or two, set your alarm on Monday through Friday for an early hour (as if you are going to work).

Schedule exercise. Preferably, try to fit in some type of aerobic exercise in the early morning, such as walking, jogging, swimming, or biking. If you belong to a health club, try to spend 30 to 45 minutes, 3 days per week, lifting weights and using the weight machines.

Ask someone to review your resume. Do you know someone who is a writer, such as a technical writer? Do you have a friend who has a well-written resume? (Who wrote it for them?) Are there career transition groups in your area? (Many churches have career transition groups with volunteers who can help you.) 

Definitely get a good "second opinion" on your resume. I have seen some poorly written resumes in the past few years! Resumes should be written to show a potential employer "what they are buying with their money" when they hire you. What knowledge, skills, and experience are they "buying"? Use verbs to describe what you did previously, such as "developed", "managed", and "created". Use the verb at the beginning of each paragraph as well as at the beginning of most sentences. Discuss the outcomes of your work, such as saving time, saving money, or increasing sales.

You can also hire a professional resume writer to rewrite your resume. A service I highly recommend is Your Signature Resume. They can work with you remotely. 

Use LinkedIn to promote yourself. Your profile should be keyword-rich -- full of words and phrases that recruiters will use when searching LinkedIn for someone with your skills and experience. Keep in mind that LinkedIn is not your resume. It is a social media tool that most recruiters use regularly to find people. 


Get into Networking:

Call people you know (even if you are only acquainted with them) to ask them to get together with you for coffee or lunch. When you meet with them, rather than give them your resume, make your contact with them somewhat informal. Your goal is to help them become mindful of what you are looking for and to spur their thoughts as to whom they know who might be able to help you. (If they ask for your resume, you can send it to them later.)  If they don't have time to meet with you, ask them for a brief phone call.

If you haven't done so yet, connect on LinkedIn to everyone you know who has a profile. This includes former colleagues, friends, your spouse's friends, neighbors, family members, and people you know from community-related activities.

Consider the companies you would like to work for. As you call people and meet with them, ask if they know anyone at those companies. Even better, use LinkedIn to look up those companies to see who is 2 degrees away from people who work there now. Contact the person you know in common and ask for an introduction to that person at that company. Don't use the word "job". Tell them you would like to have a brief conversation with that individual about their work, the company, etc., to find out more about the company (more than you can find out from the company's website). Ask your friend if they are willing to ask that person to have this type of conversation with you.

If your friend is agreeable, they should contact the person themselves and then, after the person agrees, make the introduction to both of you by email, including contact information for both of you.

When talking to the person at the company you're interested in, do not ask for a job. You only want to discuss the company, the industry, what they do, etc. They may ask you what you are looking for in a position. Your goal is for them to become mindful of you and to possibly introduce you to others. Toward the end of the meeting or phone call, ask them if they know anyone else in the company whom you might talk to. If so, get that person's name and possibly their title. Look up that person on LinkedIn. Ask for an introduction to that person (in the same way that your friend introduced you to the person you're speaking with now). 

The goal is to keep getting introductions to people at the company until you finally get introduced to a decision maker who would be the hiring manager in a department of the company where your skills and experience would be a good fit. Eventually, you will be introduced to someone who will conduct an interview. That is the person to whom you send your resume. (The only other people to whom you should send your resume are those who request it.)

Find out if there are networking groups in your area. Where I live, people bring Handbills to these events. These are typically management-level groups and higher. A handbill is sort of like a resume, but it teaches the reader what you're looking for in terms of position titles, companies, and the types of people you want to meet. At these higher level networking events, there will be a portion of the meeting where 6 to 10 of you sit at a table and take a turn to introduce yourself and pass your handbill to everyone at the table. You will let them know who you want to meet and the types of positions you're looking for.

At some general networking events, bringing a handbill or resume wouldn't be appropriate. For these, having a business card would be the best thing to have in your pocket or purse. I know several people in career transition who have business cards to hand out at networking events. You can order free business cards from www.vistaprint.com (you pay for shipping). At VistaPrint, you choose a design from their "free cards" selection, choose where to put your text, and they ship you the cards. Most people enter the minimum information: name, phone number, and e-mail address. Many people include a title or area of work (i.e. Chief Financial Officer; Technical Project Manager; Human Resources Executive). The corporate designs are professional, the cards are made of a normal weight card stock, and VistaPrint puts their name on the back of the card in small print.

 

Set weekly goals for yourself to:

  • Make X number of calls or emails to set up a time to meet for coffee or lunch (or to have a phone call) with friends and acquaintances.
  • Meet with X number of people for coffee or lunch or phone calls.
  • Get X number of contacts for more meetings or calls and commitments from other people to make the introduction.
  • Send X number of emails to request a phone call or meeting.
  • Follow-up on all introductions by sending an email to the person who introduced you to thank them for the introduction.
  • Follow-up with all people who took the time to meet with you (or talk by phone) to thank them for their time. (And to thank them for a further introduction to someone else if they offered it.)
  • Exercise.
  • Review your resume.

Consider that searching for a new job is your "current job." If you had a regular paying job now, you would have actual work hours. Think about choosing "work hours" for this job you now have of looking for a job. How about Monday to Friday from 9 am to 5 pm? If you don't set work hours, you may find that you are working on finding a job too often, that you're checking email every 15 minutes, sitting in front of your computer for too many hours, etc. Just like you need time off from a paying job, you also need time off from your "current job."

There is a time for everything, including time to talk to your friends about your job loss and job search, and a time to talk with them about other topics. Resist the temptation to talk over and over about your job loss or job search with the same people. Talk about other topics. Spread out your job search discussions among several friends.

Be careful about spending time with people who are negative or who say things that cause you to worry or feel fearful (even if they are well-intentioned). You need positive influences at this time.

Some days will go by very fast. Before you know it, the clock will tell you that it is 6 p.m. You'll wonder where the day went. It's all part of being in career transition. Start putting these tips into practice and watch your life change.

 

Tips for Friends of Job Seekers

  • Read the entire article above!
  • For the rest of the bullet points below, the "friend" is the person you know who is looking for a job. The "connection" is someone else you know who would be good for your friend to meet and have a discussion.
  • Spend at least 30 minutes with your job-seeking friend. Find out what types of positions they're looking for. What companies might be a good fit for them? 
  • Then sign into your LinkedIn account and look up those companies and other companies you think of. Who are you connected to at those companies? Make a list of possible "connections".
  • Ask your connection if he will please do you a favor and have a brief phone call with your friend. If he agrees, send a separate email to both your friend and your connection, introducing the two of them, including their contact information (name, email, phone number) and also include the hotlink to their respective LinkedIn public profiles. (This is available on the "Contact" tab of that person's profile if you are connected to them on LinkedIn. If you're not connected to someone on LinkedIn, their public profile hotlink is in the lower right corner of the Header box of their profile page.)
  • When you speak to or email your connection person, do not use the word "job". That is a conversation-killer because he might respond by saying, "I don't know of any job openings" or "Tell her to look at the open jobs on our company website." No! You're simply asking your connection to do you a favor and have a conversation with your friend/colleague.
  • Also, when you speak to or email your connection, don't be all sad... "Oh, my friend is out of work. It's so hard for him/her. Blah, blah, blah." Get me a hanky. That isn't how you would say it or write it if your friend had a job now and was looking to change jobs. You're simply asking him to have a conversation with your friend about his experience at ABC Company, his work there, the company's or department's future, etc.

Most people don't help their friends or former colleagues when they're out of work. Please be different and help out!


I appreciate your thoughts in response.


Glory Borgeson, President
© 2002 Borgeson Consulting, Inc.